Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Winning MOMent with My Pink Banana Float

It was on May 15, a week before Mother's Day, when I finally got to drop by Basix Restaurant of Dusit Thani and take pictures of my Pink Banana Float on display and served as part of the restaurant's dessert line-up. Seeing my winning recipe on the dessert line-up with a portrait of me together with my two precious princesses (how I wish my youngest princess was included, too) made me feel so proud. I took a total of 6 shots (all having the same angle, lol). I was on cloud nine when I stepped out of the restaurant and I couldn't wait to go home and show the pictures to my husband. It was such a great Mother's Day gift to me.

As expected, the hotel chef or baker did a very nice job in making the dish look so much nicer, presentable and pretty. My Pink Banana Float never looked this good! I bet, it tasted even better, too. Now, I'm regretting not tasting it while I was there. Really, I should have just have lunch there and treated myself. It was still Mother's Week, anyway (sad face). Tasting my own recipe prepared by a professional chef must have been a wonderful experience. Haaayyy, I'm really regretting letting that once-in-lifetime opportunity pass (another sad face).

Anyway, I just have to brush off the those regrets. In the meantime, here is the winning recipe that I submitted to "Mom's Best Home-Cooked Original Recipe" held at Dusit Thani.

Pink Banana Float (I failed to take a photo of the finished product)
This is a family favorite. It's like an ice-cream and pie in one. I call it My Pink Banana Float for the obvious reason that bananas are the main ingredients. The pink part has got to do with the strawberry-flavored cream or milk which is colored pink. For some added twist, I also put some ground cinnamon and semi-sweet chocolate shavings into the recipe.

I thought of creating a simple, inexpensive, creamy dessert that my children will love and they just happen to love bananas. Not to mention, that bananas are very abundant in our country.

bananas (over ripe) * I use the latundan kind
chocolate graham crackers
1 pack all-purpose cream
1 pack strawberry flavor cream or 1/2 c. - 3/4 c. of strawberry flavor milk
1 small can condensed milk
ground cinnamon
semi-sweet chocolate for topping

- Prepare the dish or tupperware
- Peel the bananas. Slice the bananas thinly and set is aside.
- Mix the cream and condensed milk and set aside.
- Fill the bottom of the dish with graham crackers. You can break the crackers into pieces or lay it whole.
- Pour out 1/4 of the mixed condensed milk and cream over it. Spread it evenly.
- Then lay the slice bananas on top of the graham and mixed cream/milk.
- Sprinkle some ground cinnamon over the layer.
- Pour out another 1/4 of the mixed milk/cream.
- Repeat the same process. Put another layer of graham crackers, then mixed milk/cream and bananas and sprinkle with some ground cinnamon. You can make up to 3 layers of your ingredients. The top layer must be the graham and milk/cream mixture.
- Top with crushed graham crackers and semi-sweet chocolate shavings.
- Put it on the freezer for an hour or until it is hard enough.
- Serve chilled.

There you have it, my masterpiece.

Thank you to my family- my husband, my three lovely daughters - for the inspiration! I am an Explorer and I use IE8.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Iron Chef Experience

When I got home after my Gyudon Eating adventure held at Yoshinoya in SM Megamall (read my previous blog entry), I had to prepare for yet, another mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure at Dusit Thani the following day -- an on-the-spot cooking of my very own original recipes. But, let me tell you first how it all happened.

Last May 4, I got a call from the PR Dept. of Dusit Thani informing me that the recipes I submitted to them had been chosen as finalists for their Mother's Day Contest, "Mom's Best Original Home-Cooked Recipe." I couldn't believe that they picked my very own invented dishes, not to mention, simple dishes -- Baked Talakitok for the Main Dish Category and Pink Banana Float for the Dessert Category, which can be prepared for less than 15 minutes (excluding the baking and the chilling).

Feeling like a real chef

Okay, okay, I will not in any way pretend that I'm a good cook because I'm really not, although I aspire to be one as any mom would. But aside from that, I must confess that I rarely cook nowadays and have confidently delegated the task to my trusted helper, Nanet, who I taught and trained and now I think cooks better than me. So, the news about my being a "cooking finalist" came as a shocking yet welcome surprise. But, what made the good news nerve-wracking was the fact that the finalists would have to prepare and cook their recipes on-the-spot. Very similar to what the chefs do in one of my favorite cooking shows, Iron Chef. Oh my gulay! I was in for an iron chef experience!!

I took a leave of absence on the day of competition. I went to the market first thing in the morning to buy my main ingredients for the cooking challenge, 1/2 kilo of fillet talakitok and 1 kilo of latundan bananas. As soon as I got home, I prepared and placed all the ingredients in a small cooler. I was all set and ready to take another challenge.

Posing with my tot, just minutes before the start of my iron chef experience.

My two daughters accompanied me to Dusit Thani. They helped me carry all my stuff, kept me inspired all throughout the "clash of the cooks", and cheered me on when the judges were finally announcing the winners. My eldest even acted as my official photographer. On our way to Dusit Thani, I received a text message from my husband wishing me good luck and while my daughters were sleeping inside the cab, I said a simple prayer of thanksgiving.

I was (again), the last contender to arrive at Tosca, a fine dining restaurant inside Dusit Thani. I met the other two mom finalists and they both looked like good cooks. Before we were ushered to Tosca's kitchen, they first lent us an apron and a toque. Oh I felt like a real chef!

Since kids were not allowed inside the kitchen, I left my two daughters at Tosca's dining hall. We were given an hour to prepare and cook our dishes. As we were ushered into the kitchen, I still couldn't believe everything that was happening. "Was this for real?," I asked myself. I immediately thought of the movie Ratatouille and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie No Reservations. I was totally blown-away. I had never been inside a hotel kitchen before. That's why I couldn't believe that I would actually be preparing and cooking my inventions in one.

with my fellow mom finalists and Dusit Thani's resident manager

The heat was on...

The heat was on as soon as we stepped into the kitchen. The two other mom finalists were like pros, while me, I was like... in a daze. Winning the battle was not my main motivation. Again, I was after the experience of something new which not a lot of people would be given the opportunity to experience. The fact that I had been invited to cook in their kitchen was already a big thing for me.

Clockwise from top leftmost photo: inside the kitchen; my area/kitchen counter where I prepared my recipes; my baked talakitok inside the oven;
a photo with Tosca's chef

After just a few minutes, I was done assembling my Pink Banana Float and placed it immediately inside the chiller. Then, after 5 minutes, my talakitok was all set for baking. The hardest part was plating. I didn't even know which plates to use and believe me, there were so many kinds and shapes of plates in there. But there was a chef who suggested which plates to use for my two dishes. Thank you, chef!

The moment of truth
The taste tests and the judges' deliberation took a while. Finally, after almost two hours of waiting, they called on the awardees. Yes, the three of us were all winners! I was called in last for bagging the grand prize in the Dessert Category. Yippeeyayyey!! It was an overwhelming experience. I almost cried in front of everybody. I was extremely happy. My kids were so happy, too. They got even more excited when they saw the prizes that we would be taking home.

I was the last to be interviewed by the judges.

announcement of the winners

The awesome prizes and experience

Aside from the prizes which included an overnight accommodation (with breakfast buffet) in one of Dusit's Grand Rooms, a 90-minute Devarana Spa voucher, Pyrex dishes, Corelle bowls, Cookworks stainless steel casserole and frying pan, San Miguel gift pack, Del Monte gift pack, and a cookbook by one of the judges, Ms. Norma Chikiamco, our winning recipe would be served in their buffet line-up for one week, in time for Mother's Day at Basix Restaurant with a portrait of me and my kids. I was deeply overwhelmed and grateful to God for all of these.

I was called in last (again) for bagging the grand prize at the Dessert Category

Photo ops with everybody. This photo was taken by my eldest daughter.
Thanks so much, sweetie!

But more than the prizes, nothing could match the experience of being an iron chef...even for just 3 hours. Yes, the experience was rather short but nonetheless...SWEET! I am an Explorer and I use IE8.

Friday, May 21, 2010

One bowl too many...

This is my gyudon bowl BEFORE the start of the contest.

For someone as tiny as me, registering for a contest that entails an appetite as big as Hercules is kinda illogical or just plain silly. Silly because at home I couldn't even finish one cup of rice, yet I joined an event that required me to eat lots and lots of rice. This was a Gyudon Eating Contest at Yoshinoya. To me, finishing even just a bowl of gyudon in 5 minutes would be one Herculean feat.

For those who have not seen me, I'm petite and weighs 105 lbs. I knew I wouldn't stand a chance against anyone there in the contest. I just happened to be interested in trying out something that was not for me to try to begin with. I just had to experience it even though it was way beyond my capacity.

When I got the email confirmation that I was one of the 15 lucky bloggers who had been chosen to compete, I got all excited! My husband was not amused. He was a bit apprehensive about my wanting to go to the event. But, nobody, not even him could stop me from joining.

That day (May 5, 2010), I didn't eat lunch. I had to condition my stomach for the big dinner ahead. My goal was not to win the grand prize but just to attend and contend with my rivals.

My fellow contenders

From my 8:30-5:30 job, I took a cab going to Megamall where the event took place. I arrived at the venue 20 minutes late. Good thing the competition was just about to start. I took my seat and sized up my opponents. Oh yes...I was the smallest in the group. There were nine of us who competed; five were males and four were females. The manager then briefed us on the contest rules: "The blogger who finishes the most gyudon beef bowl within 5 minutes will take home P3,000 Yoshinoya gift certificates." I was not nervous, not even a bit. All I wanted really was just to have a free dinner of gyudon, so why would I be nervous? Hahaha!

When the first bowl was served and I saw how plentiful the rice were, I immediately remarked to one of the servers, "How I wish there were no rice in it." But then again, without the rice, the contest wouldn't be called as such ("Gyu" means cow or beef and "don" is short for donburi which means rice bowl in Japanese).

When the timer started, I kept my cool and even poured some seasoning over my beef before I started eating. One minute elapsed...my gyudon still looked intact. Two minutes elapsed...I had not consumed even half of my gyudon. Three minutes elapsed...I started to feel so full already while the others were well on their way to their 2nd or 3rd gyudon. Four minutes elapsed...I WAS FULL, period. Five minutes elapsed...there was still rice in my bowl. Whew! I did my best. Hooray for me!

This is my gyudon bowl AFTER the end of five minutes.

After a few minutes, Yoshinoya proclaimed the winner who gobbled down 5 gyudon bowls. All the non-winners went home with 500 pesos worth of Yoshinoya GCs. So, you see, we didn't go home empty-handed. The 500 GC consolation prize was very much appreciated. Aside from going home so full and satisfied, I went home so happy and proud of my latest achievement -- finishing one bowl of gyudon...well, almost. I am an Explorer and I use IE8.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My "trips" while spending "me" time

There are those days after my 8-5 job when I choose to be with myself than go home and be with my kids. I know, it may sound a bit selfish but on the contrary, by doing so, I'm doing myself a big favor, which in turn greatly benefits my family. I get to spend my "me" time, which results to a happier me -- a happier mom to my 3 beautiful angels and a happier wife to my dear husband.

There are those times when I just want to walk and window-shop for my 3 preciousness- Nisi, Noelle & Nala - until my feet are tired. I usually end up buying them stuff, anyway.

Here are my top spots to be at or my "go-to spots" when spending some chillax time alone after office hours while waiting for my hubby who is either having his boys' night out or finishing whatever he's busy with.

Coffee Shops
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Greenbelt 3)
Starbucks (inside Fully Booked - Bonifacio High Street)
Bo's Coffee (Enterprise car park)

Powerbooks (Glorietta & Greenbelt 5)
Fully Booked (Boni High Street)

These are the places where I try to catch up on my journal writing, write entries to contests using some scratch bond papers (yeah, I'm so old school. Let's just leave the laptop at home :-) it's not mine, anyway), browse over some magazines, daydream, savor my pastries & drinks or just enjoy the silence and the company of me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My lunch treat to myself -- CBTL's pasta and my fave iced- tea

That is the adjective that aptly described my week from April 19-23 (5 days).

It started on a Monday morning at around 7 am when we rushed our daughter, Noelle, to Marikina Valley's emergency room due to extreme stomach pain. I say "extreme" because she woke up wailing while holding her tummy and screaming repeatedly "ouchy tummy!!"

I had to look calm but I knew my panic button was already on. I stayed with her, looked after her until the next day when she was discharged from the hospital. That was Tuesday afternoon. It was also the day when our big boss was looking for me. I was needed badly to do some budget slide presentations for the Board. That same day, my sideline called up to remind me of the mini pictures slide presentation that I had to submit on Thursday and I had not started doing anything yet.

Right after we got home from the hospital, I quickly checked on Nala, dialed some numbers, made sure that Noelle was okay and quickly left the house again to claim two contest prizes - one from ABS-CBN and another one at Strata 100 in Ortigas.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday -- were busy, busy, busy and busy days at work and at home where I had to squeeze in some work for my sideline. Attended meetings and dry run presentation and went home a bit later than usual; sleeping time was at around 1 AM.

I needed to treat myself -- Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks frap and cheesecake!!! Waaahhh!

Java chip frap

Caramel-apple cheesecake. I like!

From 701 to 5005 - Noelle's emergency room experience

After wailing and screaming her lungs out for hours when the needle was pricked on her hand, her wails finally subsided. As we were wheeled into our room no. 701 (she was sitting on me while I was sitting on the wheelchair) enjoying our weeeeeeee moment (I was making it fun by saying "weeeeeeee" while the nurse was pushing our wheelchair), I thought of writing down her comments and side remarks on everything she has been through. From all these, I got to know my little girl a little bit more.

" I don't like this dress!! Look, it's too big for me! " (pertaining to the hospital gown she was asked to wear, kids' size). --- very much a fashionista
" I don't like the pillow, mama. " (She rested on my tummy while I was sitting on a stretcher in the emergency room) --- she hates any type of discomfort
" Mama, I don't have a hand, look. " (Her left hand was wrapped in face towel because of her dextrose) --- playful as ever

- After almost 3 hours of taking a nap, Noelle was able to recharge her batteries. She even woke me up (see, I fell asleep, too) and told me that she was hungry. She was back to her usual self - all talkative, playful and very much opinionated, at that. She began to be fascinated with her dextrose bottle and began to sing all the Playhouse Disney songs. She also asked for some paper and pen and began to draw. --- moody, playful and loves anything Playhouse Disney

- There were times that she would suddenly cry while touching her tummy but the moment I would turn the TV channel to Playhouse Disney, she would immediately stop crying. --- easily distracted

- A few minutes before we transferred to our upgraded room (room no. 5005), she said something that made me chuckle. She said, "I'm not sick anymore, Nisi naman next sa hospital." --- she and her ate Nisi have a love-hate relationship

- While in our new room, which was a lot more spacious, had bigger TV and ref and a comfy sofa for the caretaker, she kept on fixing her bracelet tag. She was treating it like a real jeweled bracelet. --- she likes bling-blings a lot

- I asked her what she wanted me to bring for her as I was going home to have dinner and take a bath, her reply was, "Mama, just bring my bag and my cellphone." Inside her bag was her make-up kit, a lot of girlie stuff, mini notebook, pen, papers, and her cellphones. --- kikay as ever

Zoobic Safari Adventure

It was a good 30-minute ride from The Lighthouse Marina Resort to Zoobic Safari. My hubby paid P1,500+ for us (3 adults and 1 kid). Our eldest daughter, Nisi, is already considered an adult, while Noelle is free of charge.

The fees comprised six attractions including the tiger safari where you can feed the tigers with raw chicken while you are inside a jeep. This, you have to experience!

Nisi liked the Aeta trail where the Aetas performed their tribal dances.

The animal show was also cute. The tour lasted for 3 hours.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sunset cruise courtesy of The Lighthouse Marina Resort

A Purpose Driven Ride
It was our first time to ride a luxury yacht. Even the name of our yacht was perfect. When I saw it, I said to myself, "This ride is intended for us. God is really amazing!"

It was a luxurious 4-hour sunset cruise ride. Wow! I never imagined I could ever ride a yacht with just us, plus Capt. Ramir and his assistant, Mike, on board. I mean, I never had this luxury before! The 4-hour cruise was valued at Php15K or roughly Php3,500 per hour.

This was truly an experience that we will never forget. Definitely, one for the books! Mang Ramir was the best guide ever!

Waiting for our ride (arranged by Jason, Lighthouse's finance officer) going to the Subic Yacht Club.

Anxious and excited

A view of the Lighthouse Marina Resort from our yacht.


Jason, Lighthouse's charming finance officer, made sure that we wouldn't go hungry during the cruise. He arranged for our snacks and drinks which were pita bread with hummus, Greek salad with feta cheese & tomato, smoked salmon sandwiches (delicious!), and ice-cold sodas. The kids found the pita bread so yummy! They ate everything even without the hummus.

The lovely sunset behind us.

From a certain point, Babes sailed our yacht and got to dock it...in style. Bravo!

with our yacht captain, Mang Ramir, and his co-captain, Mike

at the boardwalk of Subic Yacht Club

After an awesome and lovely ride

Our Adventures at The Lighthouse Marina Resort

Bonding moments are made of these....
The beach was less than a minute away from the pool. We took off our shoes and walked barefoot. Nisi and Noelle enjoyed walking and playing on the sand. We even flew a kite. Our kite flew so high and it was awesome! And a few minutes after, a wedding took place at he pool area. Hey, we got to witness it, too.

Nisi and Noelle, enjoying the sand. Noelle even built a mini sandcastle; Nisi, flying a kite; Noelle, feeling the sand on her feet, unmindful of everything around her.

I swear, I have seen this part or area of the beach in movies or "teleseryes".

After much fun in the sun....

Famished! After all our adventures at the beach.

All smiles for the camera after having dinner

After a day of fun and adventure, it was time for a much-needed relaxation. Time to hit the tub! But before that, we first roamed the hotel's vicinity and started clicking away. Nisi and Noelle went down to the Sands Resto wearing their pajamas.

There were fascinating paintings of regattas.

The kids enjoyed the pool on the day we were scheduled to check out. Right after we had our breakfast, the kids immediately donned on their swim suits and headed straight to the pool. However, we still had to wait for about an hour before Nisi and Noelle could take the plunge because the pool maintenance person just finished cleaning it. Babes and Nisi was so excited to use the Havaianas floater Zed lent us.

The pool was very clean. There was a guard on standby all the time. I also noticed that the staff in charge of giving out the towels was very courteous. He was all smiles every time I would approach him.

Inside our room, err rather... the bathroom, the bath tub was a big hit! Not only to Nisi & Noelle, but to us, as well.

An hour of taking a dip in the tub was "bitin" to Nisi & Noelle.

Picture-perfect moments with my hubby
My husband and I tremendously enjoyed our stay here at The Lighthouse Marina Resort. We had a very pleasant experience here, from the moment we arrived until we checked out. It's perfect for families with little kids but it's also perfect for couples.

We both love to come back here and bring our whole family with us (yes, with our baby Nala already.) Nisi now considers The Lighthouse as her favorite hotel experience! While to our little girl, Noelle, every time she sees a lighthouse on her fave Playhouse Disney Channel, she would immediately associate it with The Lighthouse.

What more can I say, The Lighthouse Marina has definitely made an impact to us.

Lighthouse Marina Resort
Moonbay Marina Complex
Waterfront Road, CBD
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Zambales Philippines

Tel Nos:

Trunk Line (Tel/Fax): (63.47)252.5000 or (63.47)252.7545

Toll Free Manila Number: (632)711.0019

Manila Sales Office:(632) 892.3534 Fax: (632)815.8296

US No: +1 (415) 874-7470

Email Addresses: